ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A popular Rockford restaurant, “15th and Chris,” went up in flames over the weekend.
More was heard from the shop’s owner, James Purifoy, through his attorney, on Wednesday. The 15th Avenue establishment was badly damaged Sunday.
An arson investigator was brought to the scene, but the cause of the fire is still undetermined at this time.
An attorney for Purifoy called a press conference Wednesday. Attorney Elder Granger II claimed that the family had been receiving threats for more than a week leading up to the fire. Those behind the threats were demanding money. Grainger said that Purifoy reported the incidents to the police.
Granger said Purifoy was attacked by three men while he worked in his food truck on the night of the fire. He claimed that Purifoy was left unconscious in the truck while the men set fire to the business.
According to Granger, Purifoy woke up and drove away from the scene. A police officer pulled him over and took him to a hospital.
The family is calling on any witnesses to come forward.
“The family is hoping that someone saw something, and they want to tell the public, if you saw something, say something,” Grainger said. “They understand that, based upon the nature of this attack, that people may be fearful, but it’s just the right thing to do because to get these people out of our community.”
Purifoy has reportedly suffered third-degree burns to 25% of his body. Doctors said that he could be in the hospital for at least a month, according to his attorney.
The site of a former ice cream parlor, 15th and Chris was opened in 2018. It has won several local awards for its hamburgers. The business expanded to include a mobile food truck.